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Naming Schemas that work - or not

I've recently been thinking about our naming scheme in the company, up until now it has worked quite well and still does so. With about 300 devices (and growing) I thought I might share this to eventually get some input (if anyone ever reads this, if not I do have some reference at least).


We are actively distinguishing between internally and externally available services, one of the easiest ways to remember is to use another domain for internal services than the one you use for external services. There's however the drawback of typing, you can of course configure completely different domains but that is something I consider bad use, you either have to

The option I prefer is to use a dedicated subdomain. Yes that involves some more typing but you can always choose a really short name, good options I'd consider are:

bad options would be:

Going the other way around and having a dedicated domain for external services while defaulting to internal services isn't quite working because all your customers would have some additional typing consider this:

Not quite what you want

Split Horizon DNS

Deserves some paragraph on it's own :)

Split horizon is a technique that is able to give you different answers for the same hostname depending on the source of the request. It may be of use but I don't think it's that good to seperate services with it. How so? Consider the following situation:

You are at your company and visit to publish which is an internal only service, now you go home and remember that you forgot to add some important information, you go to and it just won't work. Heck why? You know the DNS works because just about an hour earlier you were happily typing, you start investigating search stuff and after all you just created unnecessary work for you.

I still consider a simple to be better because not only you will know instantly about internal vs. external services but also all your users. And your job is all about giving good services to your users isn't it?


This is actually more interesting that domains because you and your customers (users and paying customers) will be typing them all day long. There are a few documents that may be helpful:

Those naming schemes mostly refer to mythology, movies or tv series. All of them are quite well known and try to create a mental link between the meaning of a character, god or creature and the use of the server. Personally however I don't quite like this. It implies knowledge about cultural things that may not quite apply depending on where you are located.

We have a couple of rules that apply to our naming scheme:


Company Abbreviations

Environment Abbreviations

This is fixed in our case we use the following:

Usage Abbreviations

This is a bit tougher. There's no hard rule but rather something that makes it clear what the box actually does:

Putting it all together

Ok, so now we have a couple of rules to apply to our hostnames. Let's say we are going to put up a new project and it requires

Let's create the hostnames we are going to use:

A few points might need explanation.

Why isn't the source code reposity a production service?

Well it is, but since there's only one (and only one) we dump the environment. This is our convention for all SCM instances, it is well known so it's not a problem

Why the "appweb" and "staticweb"?

Those might sound:

I think neither is true, we are sysadmins and don't really care wether it's a java application, PHP, Python, Rails or plain Assembler. What I need to now is where the application is so that I can directly go to a host that needs some reconfiguration in case it's necessary. The web part of the name is a hint that it's...well a web application. Yes in this day and age there are still some applications running on a server that don't provide a GUI on port 80!

There are few other things we try to adhere too, while it may seem like quite a rule set that people need to keep in mind it's actually not that bad. People - that is system administrators, developers and end users - know about this scheme and can easily construct hostnames with little guessing. It's not too hard to write. I thought about moving from "devl" to "devel" but it's

so I have enough excuses to purposely have a typo in there. But since we are dealing with artifical names anyway we don't have much of a problem here. We get very few questions about where a service actually is, and most questions are only asked once. Those come up when we obviously did something wrong abbreviating the usage but that is something we live with for the sake of not generating sources of error. Renaming a host is quite a risky thing to do, there are references all over the place you might forget and tests don't always cover all cases. We are hit early enough with missing test cases everytime we have to migrate some server or service due to scaling issues.

Generated: 2017-11-02 10:20:47 +0100